Whilst the oil industry is something I wished was being phased out, I won’t hold it against the developers of Drill Deal: Oil Tycoon. They’ve pulled together a well-balanced tycoon game that is one part production strategy, one part profit and contract maximisation, one part block puzzle and a splash of clicker shooting.
In Drill Deal you are tasked with making an oil rig profitable. The campaign mode, which is where you’ll be forced to spend several hours before unlocking sandbox, brings you several scenarios to reach for each level, awarding a star for each success. One star lets you continue on but the fun is in getting all three as they teach you new skills as you go.
Everything you do is centred around the crude oil being drilled from the centre of the platform. You’ll be adding buildings to process the oil into fuel. That fuel can then be processed again into another resource such as lubricant or asphalt. Everything has a production line and depending on the scenario, you’ll want to prioritise researching and building different buildings to get your production line going. Buildings must be staffed to be productive though, so workers must be hired. They all have star ratings for several skills which boost productivity so you’ll want the drilling expert on the drill and the chef in the kitchen. You can keep your site running 24/7 by allocating day and night shifts too.
Workers get grumpy though. They’ll want decent sleeping quarters and entertainment to keep them happy. The better the worker, the more they expect and so even their meal quality makes them happy or sad. This of course brings additional costs to keep them happy. Get a kitchen and regularly ship in ingredients for food and you’ll get a poor meal. Any worker with a three-star skill gets depressed with this and eventually walks out. You’ll need to research a kitchen upgrade, buy and build it and then maybe hire a chef that can make good meals and you’ll get a standard or good meal unlocked instead. All buildings and skills work this – you’ll be buying and chipping away at improving everything over time, all in the name of efficiency and productivity. Even the bricks for the buildings need to bought and shipped in before you can build a platform extension or bridge. For some, this might be a bit slow. I found its gentle progress fun and engrossing. Staff also hate noise, so there’s a building placement side to Drill Deal too. You can’t place staff buildings too close to anything production-wise as the noise ruins their enjoyment. Space is limited on an oil rig, so there’s a juggle to be had.
Once you are producing something, you’ll be into the contracts aspect of Drill Deal. You can sign from available contracts that come to ship your contents out every day for payment. What I love about the UI here is that it gives you a clear indication on what you make, what gets used in the ongoing production to produce other compounds or fuels, and what is left to sell. Of course, it is based on your current productivity so if a worker slumps and you sign a contract too tight on the margins, you could end up not fulfilling it. This in turn drops your reputation down and that can have an impact on staff happiness. You can unlock new contracts by… you guessed it… buying them on a contracts tree.
Giving a margin for error is wise here because random events take place in the game. Your worker could fall overboard and if you can’t rescue them with your rescue tower quick enough, they’ll die and that makes everyone depressed. Similarly, tourists can capsize and you have to rescue them. More annoying are pirates. Here, you can build and man defence towers to shoot cannonballs as pirate ships to drown them before they blow up one of your rooms. Every room has HP that drops with each hit and they require maintenance on the actual components themselves.
All of this comes together nicely but it’s really the building blocks to let you get creative. Buildings when placed together generate productivity bonuses but sometimes that’s tricky to manage. You can invest in a whole piping system around the outside of your rig to link all the bonuses up. There’s also a whole mini game of expeditions too, seeing your workers sail off to nearby wrecks or islands to uncover treasure or resources. Oddly, there is an overarching story to this game although it is more impactful as providing different spins on the main game mechanics for each level. What the game doesn’t do until very late on is open up all the four research tables based on production, staff and HR so you can explore them in your own way. Each scenario funnels you in, which is nice early on but I’d have liked to have gone rogue a few hours earlier.
That small issue aside, Drill Deal is a slow burn that really kept me amused and engaged. Seeing the profits slowly go up day by day was moreish and whilst I could have done with fewer pirates at times, it just meant I built defence towers earlier than I’d planned to deal with them. If you enjoy tycoon games where slow but constant progress is always at your fingertips, this could be a great game for you.
Review copy provided by the developer.
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